Massachusetts Online Gambling

Latest Massachusetts online gambling news
The city of Springfield will receive $644,000 in grants to help revitalize the downtown area around MGM Springfield.

Welcome to PlayMA, your source for all the latest on Massachusetts legal online gambling, as well as all other gambling options in the Bay State.

Legal sports betting is coming to Massachusetts! Gov. Charlie Baker signed sports betting into law earlier this summer, and regulators are working on setting up the launch. Hopefully for football fans throughout the state, the Massachusetts sports betting launch will happen in time to bet on games during the 2022-23 season.

Meanwhile, the Bay State is already home to multiple resort casinos, a state-run lottery, wagering on horse racing, and many other forms of legal gambling. Here at PlayMA, you’ll find information about all of the current Massachusetts gambling options and the latest news about what is to come.

Legal Gambling in Massachusetts

Online Casinos

Online casinos are not legal in Massachusetts at this time. The legislative focus with regard to gambling is currently on sports betting, in both online and live formats. To the best of our knowledge, the addition of online casino gambling as a legal activity in Massachusetts is not on the horizon at this time.

The best options for Bay Staters who want to play online casino games are social and sweepstakes casinos. These sites allow you to play slots and table games. Social sites like Pulsz Slots and Casino allow you to play a variety of different casino games for fun. Meanwhile sites like Chumba Casino, LuckyLand Slots and Funzpoints offer the chance to win cash prizes for your play.

Online Poker

Online poker is not legal in Massachusetts right now. In fact, because of the lower profits for gambling providers and taxing authorities, it is less likely that Bay Staters will see online poker options before online casinos debut, and online casinos aren’t even in the discussion right now.

In the meantime, you can avail yourself of some social and sweepstakes options. These sites let you play poker with people across the country. A good option for this kind of action is Global Poker. Global is a sister site to Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots and has options for No Limit Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, Crazy Pineapple and, most recently, Pot Limit Omaha High/Low (aka Eight or Better).

Sports Betting

Sports betting is finally about to make its way to Massachusetts. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the Massachusetts sports betting bill into law on Aug. 10, 2022. While an official launch date has not been announced, we expect Massachusetts sports betting to launch in the coming months. In addition, we expect the Bay State to feature both retail and mobile sports betting. This will give bettors plenty of options and flexibility when placing their wagers.

The state’s three casinos and two simulcast wagering facilities will each have retail sportsbooks. Those locations will be allowed to partner with operators to launch mobile sports betting apps as well, with the state ultimately able to have as many as 15 online sports betting sites.

By following an accelerated schedule for establishing regulations, the hope is that Massachusetts sports betting could begin before the end of 2022.

Lottery

The Massachusetts Lottery is one of the older options for legal gambling in the state, selling its first ticket in 1972. There are several draw games that you can play, including Powerball, Mega Millions and Megabucks. All of these regularly feature jackpots in excess of $1 million.

In addition, you can play the Numbers Game and Mass Cash if you want some options a bit closer to home. The Massachusetts Lottery also sells dozens of instant win games. Keep in mind that you cannot play any of these games online. Although the commission does offer a lottery app, it’s only an informational tool rather than a method to purchase tickets online.

Horse Betting

One of the most common types of online gambling in any state is horse betting. Federal legislation from 2000 and an exemption in 2006’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act rendered betting on horse racing legal at the federal level and up to each state to decide. Like the majority of states, horse betting in Massachusetts is legal.

There are a host of horse betting sites available to Bay State residents, but one of the best options is TVG. TVG is one of the most flexible places to handicap horses, but its other features are what set the site apart. TVG is actually a broadcast network with an attached horse betting site, and the broadcasts are dedicated to horse racing around the clock.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports contests have a particularly deep connection in Massachusetts. One of the major DFS companies, DraftKings, launched in Boston and retains its corporate headquarters in the Back Bay area. The only shock about Massachusetts’ legalization of DFS in 2016 was that it wasn’t the first state to do so — in fact, by then seven others had beaten the Bay State to the punch.

It doesn’t really matter, though. DFS is alive and well as a legitimate activity in Massachusetts, and is a standard activity for many of its residents. You can play on DraftKings, FanDuel or any of the other legitimate providers. Both DraftKings and FanDuel are expected to be among the first sportsbooks to launch in Massachusetts when sports betting goes live.

Safe And Legal Gambling In Massachusetts

As of this time, gambling in Massachusetts has not yet launched, but the state will be launching sports betting soon, with more to follow. A few specific avenues for placing a bet, such as daily fantasy sports (DFS) and online horse betting, are clarified as legal under the law. However, activities like online slots and table games are unregulated and not permitted at this time. Any online casino or poker site that accepts Bay Staters right now is operating illegally in the state and is actually based offshore. These sites come with risks, and you should be sure to avoid them for many reasons:

  • Transparency: With these sites, you cannot be sure about the motivations and impartiality of the site you choose. Remember — you will have to surrender your personal ID and banking data in order to play.
  • Protection: If you go offshore to gamble, a site might run a crooked game or refuse to honor your withdrawal requests, and there would be little you can do about it. These sites are not beholden to the US legal system or a US regulator and are not bound, necessarily, to the same level of ethical standards. This makes them especially risky to use.
  • Security: You are putting your personal information in transit to servers thousands of miles away, and there are plenty of opportunities for hackers and other criminals to attempt an interception along the way.

Finding A Legitimate Massachusetts Betting Site

There are many ways in which you can tell the difference between a legal gambling site and an illegal offshore gambling site. For the time being, it’s pretty easy. In Massachusetts, if a site is offering online casino games, online poker, or sports betting, then it’s offshore. Those three activities are not legal in Massachusetts at this time. Sports betting is technically legal, but licensed sportsbooks have yet to launch. Licensed and registered sportsbooks such as DraftKings and FanDuel have much more security and are regulated by multiple governing bodies to ensure they are safe to use.

For now, you’ll need to be able to differentiate the legitimate sites from the illegitimate ones. There are four things you can do to confirm a site’s legitimacy.

  1. Look for some sort of mention of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Any legitimate site will have to answer to Mass Gaming — there’s no two ways about it. You can also look for the commission logo, which you can see an example of on the right.
  2. There should be a US-based address in the site’s contact details. Preferably, the address is inside Massachusetts, but anywhere in the US is fine. This requirement is evidence of a company’s adherence to US laws, as well as its obligations under the appropriate regulatory bodies.
  3. Check the Massachusetts Gaming Commission website. Regulation is a two-way street, and while legitimate sites are going to mention the MGC, you can be sure that the MGC is going to mention the sites that it monitors.
  4. Contact Mass Gaming directly. You can either use a response form or scroll down to the bottom of the page for the phone number and email address. Either way, the commission is going to know who can offer online gambling in the state and who cannot. You may not need to take this particular step, but if you want to be absolutely sure, reach out to the regulators to find out if a site’s for real and truly legit.

History Of Gambling In Massachusetts

Like many states, Massachusetts has a history with legal gambling that stretches back for decades. Here are some of the more recent relevant dates for the history of gambling in Massachusetts:

  • 1934 — Bingo, or “beano,” receives official recognition as a legal activity in Massachusetts for men’s clubs, churches or other charitable organizations. However, the bingo renaissance is short-lived in the Bay State, with then-Gov. Leverett Saltonstall reinstituting the ban in 1943 after reports of organized crime outfits operating beano games as fronts for their rackets. Bingo continues in church basements and other locations off the radar until 1971, when the Legislature legalizes bingo games again. At the same time, the Massachusetts Legislature authorizes pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog races inside state lines. The first racetracks open the following year.
  • 1971 — This year proves to be a fruitful time for gambling fans in Massachusetts, as lawmakers approve the creation of the Massachusetts Lottery (and its commission). The purpose of the legalization is quite simple — the state wants to provide money for its 351 cities and towns. Tickets first go on sale in March 1972. Since that time, the lottery has provided more than $28 billion to the state for distribution to various municipalities. It has also awarded more than $92 billion in prizes.
  • 2011 — The debut of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in nearby Connecticut in the 1990s begins a frustrating drain on the gambling revenues in Massachusetts. In November 2011, Gov. Deval Patrick signs the Expanded Gaming Act into law. The act divides the commonwealth of Massachusetts into three geographic regions. Region A is in the middle, with Region B in the west and Region C in the southeast. By the terms of the act, each region can host a single full-service casino. In addition, the act also allows for a Class II slots parlor. Since then, Region A has Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, and Region B has MGM Springfield in (obviously) Springfield. The slots parlor, the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, is up and running as well.
  • 2016 — Massachusetts’ daily fantasy sports regulations become law in April 2016. Gov. Charlie Baker signs off on a comprehensive economic development bill for the entire state that includes the legalization of DFS as part of its initiatives. Top DFS company DraftKings began in Boston and retains its corporate headquarters there, so it’s not terribly shocking that Massachusetts becomes the eighth state to recognize DFS formally as a legal activity.
  • 2019 — Massachusetts lawmakers file a bill to legalize sports betting. However, bill S201 stalls in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
  • 2021 — Two more sports betting bills, H3993 and S269, stall during the year’s legislative session.
  • 2022The Massachusetts Senate passes an amended H3993 and sets up negotiations with the state House to reach an agreed upon bill. On Aug. 1, both the House and Senate pass a compromise sports betting bill that now awaits Gov. Baker’s signature. 
  • 2022 – Gov. Baker signs the Massachusetts sports betting bill into law. An official launch date has yet to be announced, but sports betting is officially on its way to Massachusetts.

FAQ

For the most part, no. Online casinos, poker and sports betting remain illegal activities in Massachusetts. The activity most likely to receive approval, sports betting, is most likely still a few months away from launching in the Bay State. The only options that you have at the moment are horse betting and Daily Fantasy Sports.

Not yet. Sports betting is not legal in Massachusetts at this time. States in close proximity to Massachusetts, such as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have all implemented sports betting.

Gov. Baker signed the Massachusetts sports betting bill into law in the summer of 2022. State legislators are in the process of establishing the rules and regulations for the industry in the state. An official launch date has not been announced, but the hope is that sports betting is rolled out in Massachusetts at some point during the 2022-23 NFL season.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission oversees all gambling activity in the state. Mass Gaming regulates every bit of gambling in the state and will do so for any future gambling expansions.

You need to be 21 or older for most gambling activities. You must be 21 to play at Massachusetts casinos, and sports betting will require players to be this age or older as well. The only exceptions are the lottery and horse betting, which require players to be 18 or older.

Resources

If gambling is a problem for you, there are multiple resources available in Massachusetts around the clock, and every minute you spend in recovery is a minute you didn’t lose gambling.

Responsible gambling services in Massachusetts begin with the Office of Problem Gambling Services, a division of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The OPG provides crisis services to problem gamblers and training assistance for those who care for problem gamblers. If you want to explore options for problem gambling treatment, you can contact the OPG at the Massachusetts Problem Gambling Helpline (800-327-5050) or reach out through the live chat function on the helpline website. Alternatively, you can also reach out to the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, which maintains its own helpline at 800-426-1234 and a live chat function on its website.

Massachusetts also maintains a voluntary self-exclusion list. The state-run program bars you from patronizing any gambling locations inside Massachusetts. Placing yourself on the list will render you unable to play at these venues and subject to various forfeitures if you are caught doing so. Your time on the list can range from six months to the rest of your life.

Massachusetts is home to two Native American tribes that qualify as federally recognized entities:

  • Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
  • Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)

So far, only the Mashpees have moved to secure a compact with the folks in Boston. Although the tribe only received federal recognition in 2007, it has moved quickly to declare some 300 acres near Taunton as its reservation lands. This declaration has come under considerable fire from the government, including a 2020 effort by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to remove the reservation designation from the lands. However, now that those challenges appear to be over, the Mashpees are moving forward with their plans for the First Light Casino & Resort, a full-scale casino that will serve as the Region C property under the Expanded Gaming Act.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), meanwhile, has not been as dogged in its pursuit of an agreement with the state. Instead, it has moved to create a bingo facility on tribal lands. Of course, the government sued this tribe, too — this time, it was the city government of Aquinnah — claiming that a 1983 land agreement nullified the tribe’s ability to offer gambling. After some arguing in court, the tribe prevailed in 2018 and began moving forward with its plans. However, the town remained undeterred and has kept the project tied up in court ever since with any issues that it could find. It now appears that the tribe will be able to build the venue, albeit with some approvals from the powers that be.

If you want or need more information about online gambling in Massachusetts, there is plenty available. Visit any of the links below to find out more:

The state’s legal gambling locations are the following:

  • Encore Boston Harbor (Class III)
  • MGM Springfield (Class III)
  • Plainridge Park Casino (Class II)
  • Raynham Park (Off-track betting)
  • Suffolk Downs (Off-track betting)
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